I have recently been presenting on Leadership. And I would like to share some thoughts and lessons that I have discovered and lived around this topic.
The first major lesson of leadership is that leadership is INFLUENCE!
John Maxwell shares an interesting fact. He shares that the most introverted person will influence around 10,000 people in their lifetime. WOW!!!
He shares that leadership is a skill that everyone can develop and we need to develop. Our lives influence far more people than we realize!
Leadership goes beyond managing. Management is often part of a leadership position, but the essence of leadership embodies attributes and skills that reach beyond the management skills. Leadership embodies relationship, character, serving, and operating from the understanding that your life reaches beyond just you. To move into the higher levels of leadership, we must learn to not depend on our position to give us the right to influence or change people. People will follow our leadership as they come to know that we care about them. That means that we invest in them through relationship and development or empowerment.
One of the valuable lessons I have learned and lived through my professional life is "influence is earned". Over and over as a personal health coach, I experienced this phenomenon. It was common for me to start a coaching relationship with an employee of a company who was disgruntled that they were being asked to quit smoking or to focus on health changes. I did not focus on the expertise that I had or the position of "demanding" a change. I focused on knowing them. I wanted to first understand their story and let their story guide our journey. I saw this work over 11 years of coaching. As I listened to their story and was guided by that, people began to give me the right to influence them in their lives. They gave me the right to challenge them and guide them into new thinking and lifestyle goals.They would even open up about areas beyond their health. INFLUENCE!!! Influence is earned. Leadership is influence!
I like another statement from John Maxwell: To be a leader, you have to have followers.
Position does not automatically mean we have followers. We may have subordinates that have to answer to us, but they may not be followers. Something to think about.
John Maxwell identifies 5 Levels of Leadership. To reach our greatest effectiveness as leaders, we must learn to move beyond the first level of leadership. That means, we must develop beyond our dependence on the position that demands people's "obedience". We need to move into relationship and investment in others. This kind of shift will inspire people's desire to follow and be influenced by our leadership.
Whether you realize it or not, you are a leader. Someone is watching you. Someone is being influenced by you. Develop your leadership and decide what kind of influence you will leave on the 10,000 plus people you will influence by the end of your lifetime on this earth.